Making Sense of That Which Makes No Sense

half staffOn November 13, 1989 a thirteen year old boy came home from school to find his father home. Knowing his father was home several hours early, he instantly realized that something was up… and his father told him something that would have a significant impact on the rest of his life. That was the day that I learned my aunt had killed my three cousins before killing herself.

The impact of that day has affected our family significantly… and the memories associated with it are forever etched in my mind. Over the next few days we watched as my aunt was discussed on television, phrases like manic-depressive were thrown around, questions were asked, and tears were shed. The phrase “I should have realized” was spoken in hushed tones, and answers were sought out. During the funeral, I sat between my uncle and my grandfather… putting my arm around my grandfather to comfort him as he sobbed uncontrollably.

Since that day many explanations have been given about what went wrong, many discussions have taken place about what drives a person to kill her three sons before taking her own life, and while many of the answers given are logical, and scientifically accurate, none of them make sense to me… and none of them have brought back Geoffrey, Josh, Daniel, or Diane.

What I have come to understand is the events of November 13, 1989 are evidence of the brokenness of the world in which we live, and man’s depravity. I have yet to come to peace with those events, nor do I believe that I have made sense of them… I doubt that I ever will, and attempting to do so would be a fool’s errand.

While that awful, terrible, tragic day is not something I would wish on anyone, as I look back on it I am strangely grateful. Grateful for the understanding that it has given me about pain and heartache, grateful for learning how to grieve alongside of those who have experienced tragedy, grateful for having known my aunt and cousins, and grateful for the tender spot that this has left in my soul for those who suffer.

As I look back, I recognize that much of who I am is a result of that dark day, and I recognize how Romans 8:28 has played out in the twenty-three years since that day. Scripture does not promise us that all things will be good, or pleasant, or pretty… but it does promise that our heavenly Father will work all things, the good, the bad, and the downright evil, for our ultimate good.

As we reflect on days like November 23, 1989; March 24, 1998April 20, 1999; October 2, 2006; or December 14, 2012; may our hearts break for those who have lost their lives, for those whose state of mind says “this is OK”, and for those whose lives have radically changed in a way that will never be OK.

But let us never be able to make sense of this.

Let us never be able to comprehend, expect, or understand acts like these.

Let us never become blind to the pain inflicted on others.

And may we never grow numb to atrocities such as this.


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Chet

    Wow…I had no idea this was a part of your life story. It is powerful as are your insights drawn from it.

  • becky

    matt, fantastic post. Thank you for sharing your own story and your insights. it is wonderful.

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